A whole new demographic of buyers were forced to do their shopping online in the past year, and leaned more heavily on customer service teams to feel comfortable and confident about their purchases. While post-transaction support, like order status and return initiation, likely will never subside, CX teams can now take on more of a revenue-generating advisory role, answering product questions or directing customers to better alternatives.
Kustomer talked to thought leaders in the customer experience space to understand what they think the future of retail CX looks like, how to re-create the in-store experience in an online world, and what tools and strategies brands should tap into in order to achieve this. Read on for a preview, and access the full e-book here.
The Shift to Digital-First
With most businesses closing their storefronts (at least temporarily) or minimizing capacity during the global pandemic, consumers were forced to shift their shopping online. While it is inevitable that commerce will partially shift back to brick-and-mortar once things go back to “normal”, there is now a massive new pool of consumers that are comfortable shopping online, and you can expect this increased volume of e-commerce and digital inquiries to continue. In fact, according to Shopify, a whopping 84% of consumers shopped online during the global pandemic, and 48.8% of consumers will continue to shop online more frequently after the pandemic is over.
It is imperative to consider how new online shoppers will be interacting with your brand in a digital-first world. How do you make it easier for them to get their questions answered? How do you make sure you’re able to surface the correct information and resources to a customer in their times of need? How do you ensure you are able to deliver a seamless experience when consumers switch channels or move from in-store to online?
Creating a Unified and Effortless Experience
According to Alexander Richards, Director of Partnerships & Business Development at Medallia, the future of retail involves seamless and connected shopping experiences. “For a long time now, online and in-store shopping have been treated as separate entities that fall under the same brand, and sell the same goods, usually leaving advocates frustrated. Just because a brick-and-mortar store uses one POS platform, an online store uses another, and they don’t talk to each other, this shouldn’t impede the sales and support teams. Most of all, it shouldn’t impede the customer,” says Richards. “Brands are becoming smarter, more customer-centric, and know they need to meet their customers where they are in this omnichannel world. Our jobs as technology companies are to provide solutions to enable and support these effortless experiences.”
Incorporating digital-first support strategies into the overall online customer experience will make a huge difference when it comes to brand equity and loyalty. Consumers that perhaps would walk into a store to check out a product or ask a question to an in-store representative, now require that service in an online environment. Instead of tracking down a phone number or e-mail address, a chat widget or in-app messaging may be the most convenient option to get a question answered. In fact, according to recent consumer research conducted by Kustomer, live chat continues to grow in popularity with consumers, now ranking as the second most popular channel to get customer service problems solved.
Keeping Things Personal
However, digital CX should not mean impersonal CX. Customers still want to be treated like real human beings, with unique thoughts and preferences — not like anonymous transaction numbers. According to Kustomer research conducted during the pandemic, the top three most valued customer service attributes are:
In order to truly deliver the in-store experience in a digital world, retailers must not lose the human touch. Consumers expect to be treated with empathy and personalization, even when they aren’t interacting with a company representative face-to-face.
Says Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Futurist, Bestselling Author, and Keynote Speaker, “The future of retail is personalized. Retailers will use technology to create bespoke experiences that are completely tailored, at scale.”
Want to learn more from CX experts on how to recreate the in-store retail experience online? Check out the full e-book here.